A little Learning is a dang'rous Thing; Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian Spring: There shallow Draughts intoxicate the Brain, And drinking largely sobers us again. ~ Alexander Pope (The date of Pope's birth was not definite when this was proposed for QOTD; he is said to have been born 22 May 1688, in The Life of Pope (1781) by Samuel Johnson, but apparently this was an error, for 21 May seems to have become the most widely accepted date.)
I should dearly love that the world should be ever so little better for my presence. Even on this small stage we have our two sides, and something might be done by throwing all one's weight on the scale of breadth, tolerance, charity, temperance, peace, and kindliness to man and beast. We can't all strike very big blows, and even the little ones count for something. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle
Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle in "A Case of Identity"
The more we progress the more we tend to progress. We advance not in arithmetical but in geometrical progression. We draw compound interest on the whole capital of knowledge and virtue which has been accumulated since the dawning of time. ~ Arthur Conan Doyle
I will make my meaning more clear when I say that I thinkright and wrong are both tools which are being wielded by those great hands which are shaping the destinies of the universe, that both are making for improvement; but that the action of the one is immediate, and that of the other more slow, but none the less certain. Our own distinction of right and wrong is founded too much upon the immediate convenience of the community, and does not inquire sufficiently deeply into the ultimate effect.
The progress of the sciences toward theories of fundamental unity, cosmic symmetry (as in the unified field theory) — how do such theories differ, in the end, from that unity which Plato called “unspeakable” and “indiscribable,” the holisticknowledge shared by so many peoples of the earth, Christians included, before the advent of the industrial revolution made new barbarians of the peoples of the West? In the United States, before spiritualist foolishness at the end of the last century confused mysticism with “the occult” and tarnished both, William James wrote a master work of metaphysics; Emerson spoke of “the wisesilence, the universal beauty, to which every part and particle is equally related, the eternal One . . .”; Melville referred to “that profound silence, that only voice of God”; Walt Whitman celebrated the most ancient secret, that no God could be found “more divine than yourself.” And then, almost everywhere, a clear and subtle illumination that lent magnificence to life and peace to death was overwhelmed in the hard glare of technology. Yet that light is always present, like the stars of noon. Man must perceive it if he is to transcend his fear of meaningless, for no amount of “progress” can take its place.
To glimpse one’s own truenature is a kind of homegoing, to a place East of the Sun, West of the Moon — the homegoing that needs no home, like that waterfall on the upper Suli Gad that turns to mist before touching the earth and rises once again into the sky.
There’s a creation, a creating force. But whatever it is is in everything we see. It’s in that log, in that stone. It’s just the power. And I’ve had many experiences with it. Certain circumstances bring it out, which all the mystics know. That is part of our Zentraining too. It’s called an "opening." … For a second, you see what the world is. It is a whole other way of seeing, which is horrible, terrifying, and extraordinary and a greatblessing to have.
I have often tried to isolate that quality of "Zen" which attracted me so powerfully to its literature and later to the practice of zazen. But since the essence of Zen might well be what one teacher called "the moment-by-moment awakening of mind," there is little that may sensibly be said about it without succumbing to that breathless, mystery-ridden prose that drives so many sincere aspirants in the other direction. In zazen, one may hope to penetrate the ringing stillness of universal mind, and this "intimation of immortality," as Wordsworth called it, also shines forth from the brief, cryptic Zen texts, which refer obliquely to that absolute reality beyond the grasp of our linear vocabulary, yet right here in this moment, in this ink and paper, in the sound of this hand turning the page.
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Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers. ~ Peter Matthiessen (dob: 1927 May 22) (goodreads quotes)
And only the enlightened can recall their former lives; for the rest of us, the memories of past existences are but glints of light, twinges of longing, passing shadows, disturbingly familiar, that are gone before they can be grasped, like the passage of that silver bird on Dhaulagiri. ~ Peter Matthiessen (dob: 1927 May 22) (goodreads quotes)
The glee of it. The ecstasy of It. I can't speak about this It because I know no word. It is just there, It is always there, like death in life. In this instant I know that something terrible is rising that must be seized and turned back upon itself before it twists outward into violence. But that knowing always comes too late, a wild unraveling is under way and I am caught up in it like a coyote seen late one afternoon in an Arkansas tornado-a toy dog spinning skyward, struck white by a ray of sun against black clouds, then black, then white, then gone and lost forever. The wind dies. A dead stillness. Mirror water. That ecstasy that shivered every nerve replaced by the precise knowing that what this self perpetrated is as much a part of the universal will as erupting lava that subsides once more into the inner earth. ~ Peter Matthiessen (dob: 1927 May 22) (goodreads quotes)
A Mahayana teaching with a strong Taoist infusion, Ch'an or Zen cast off the dead weight of priestly ritual and mindless chanting of the sutras or scriptures — the records of the Buddha's teachings — and returned to the simple zazen way of Shakyamuni. In a statement attributed to the First Chinese Patriarch, Bodhidharma, an old monk from India who is loosely associated with the birth of Zen, the new teaching was described as "a special transmission outside the scriptures, not founded upon words or letters. By pointing directly to man's own mind, it lets him see into his own true nature and thus attain Buddhahood."